Old Mutual scraps MacG sponsorship over transphobic comments

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Sol Phenduka and MacG

Old Mutual has acted swiftly by ending its sponsorship of MacG after his podcast included deeply transphobic comments that outraged queer social media.

On Tuesday, the financial services giant released a scathing statement on twitter about the YouTube podcast.

“As a responsible business that fully respects the rights of everyone, we have decided to terminate the relationship with MacG, with immediate effect,” said the company. “We distance ourselves from the harmful commentary against the LGBTQI community and humanity at large.”

In a video of Monday’s podcast, MacG (Macgyver Mukwevho) and radio personality Sol Phenduka discuss pop culture news, including actor and social media star Siv Ngesi’s recent drag transformation.

The two men debate if this means that Ngesi is gay and then start discussing Caitlyn Jenner while also conflating being gay or lesbian with being transgender. They appear confounded by the idea that Jenner still wants to date women.

“So you want to have a sex-change just to be with women? Now she’s lesbian. Wow, why can’t you just be a man and be with a woman,” asks Phenduka. “Even if you prefer her strapping up and do you, but why do you need to go through [a transition]?”

A third off-camera host is heard commenting that perhaps Jenner wanted “the parts”. A mystified MacG says that he “can’t keep up,” asking “What do you call that? Is she now…?”

Phenduka warns MacG to be careful about what he says and refers mockingly to “the LGBQTRZ” community. He then asserts that American rapper Young Buck “used to see a trans person,” which seems to stun MacG.

In the discussion, Phenduka also offensively refers to a “she-male” and calls a trans person “a woman with a dick,” a term that elicits much hilarity from MacG.

Old Mutual said that, “To say the least, MacG’s commentary was both ignorant and insensitive, clearly showing that much education needs to happen, especially in a country where people continue to be ostracised, killed and raped for being who they are.”

The company called on South Africans to “educate ourselves and hold each other accountable, to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected.”

The hosts’ casual othering of LGBTQ+ people and their heteronormative and cisnormative ignorance about sexuality and gender shocked queer and allied social media users. Ngesi tweeted that, “This hate speech must be reported! None of this is funny!”

Transgender publicist and blogger Yaya Mavundla joined many others in calling for MacG and Phenduka to account for their bigotry. “We call for those in power to do the right thing. We deserve RESPECT! When is MacG & Sol Phenduka availing themselves to engage? Silence isn’t always golden,” she said.

Activist and filmmaker Beverley Ditsie commented: “Dear MacG. Your freedom stops where mine begins. Your jokes are a matter of life or death for me and those like me.”

It’s not the first time that MacG has been in trouble for queerphobia. In 2010, he was fired as a DJ by YFM which was in turn fined R15,000 by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA over MacG’s on-air homophobia.

During his 2010 show, MacG played an audio clip of anti-gay Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa ranting about the “evils” of homosexuality and claiming that gay people commonly eat faeces as part of their sex life. “Now I thought that I hate gay people, But, hey, this guy is on another level hey…” said the DJ. He also mocked a gay colleague in the studio.

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